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Left-Hand Training

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Training under less-than-ideal circumstances.

This work is a proposed Trope, Tropers can vote and offer feedback in the comments section below.
Proposed By:
Twoeyesshort on May 12th 2017 at 12:51:00 PM
Last Edited By:
Twoeyesshort on May 25th 2018 at 10:43:24 AM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

Sometimes, it's not enough to just practice in a "fair" way. Getting really good at something implies the ability to do it even when there are factors impeding the person doing it. This trope is an intentional invocation of this, by having the trainee devote themselves to what would otherwise be a routine training session with additional restrictions.

Examples include:

  • Attempting to use normal abilities while under the effects of a Power Limiter
  • Doing a strenuous activity with additional weights bound to the trainee
  • Asymmetric sparring... the trainer has a distinct martial advantage over the trainee, such as longer reach, padded armor, or is simply bigger and stronger
  • Attempting something that requires deep concentration while there are distractions, ranging from obnoxious noises to a whole other facet of training to deal with
  • Attempting common tasks in a manner the trainee is not familiar with, such as fighting while leading with their other hand or wayfinding in foreign territory

The reasons for doing this can vary. Maybe the trainee is already excellent in his field and this is the only conceivable way to get better still. Maybe the trainee is training specifically for a scenario where these factors are in place. Or maybe this is the best use of an otherwise modest budget. Regardless, the effect is usually that the trainee quickly finds ways to work through or around the limitations and becomes more formidable as a result.

If done in a particularly dangerous fashion, this overlaps with Training from Hell. See Charles Atlas Superpower for the eventual result. When they pull this sort of thing in the middle of "the real deal", like a combat situation, that's I Am Not Left-Handed. Also related is Boxing Lessons for Superman, inasmuch as it's a similar means of expanding a character's repertoire.


Examples:

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     Anime and Manga 
  • Dragon Ball Z. Goku is a fan of this trope, regularly training with absurdly heavy weights and/or while under the effects of high gravity.
  • Berserk:
    • Accidentally invoked by Guts, who was raised in a mercenary band and thus started training with swords meant for adults. As an adult, his swords are still longer than he is tall.
    • After the Eclipse, Guts' self-imposed training involves things like chopping one-handed through logs falling down a waterfall. Of course, in this case it's because he lost an arm and an eye in the Eclipse, so he needs unusual training to get his new body back in fighting condition.
  • In Captain Tsubasa, Hyuga's coach trains his soccer team by ordering them to dribble and kick the balls on shore tides. Hyuga himself take this further by using a heavier ball.
  • In Naruto Rock Lee wears ludicrously heavy training weights on his legs most of the time, as in makes a crater when he drops them heavy, making him extremely fast once taken off.

     Comic Books 
  • Wolverine once trained under a master samurai to learn how to properly wield a katana. The training regimen included this, where he would regularly spar with that master using a wooden practice blade broken to half length, while the master was Dual Wielding.

     Literature 
  • In The Inheritance Cycle, towards the end of the series, Eragon and Arya are sparring to keep their edge in time to fight Galbatorix. Arya pulls out every distracting trick she can think of, including making Eragon Distracted by the Sexy, so as to toughen his mentality in case Galbatorix starts to use illusion magic, he will be able to remain focused on his goal.
  • In the children's book The Million Dollar Shot, Eddie Ball goes through several weeks of training on taking free throws, so as to stand the best chance of sinking it. This includes his friend Annie Stokely and her father Bobby (his coach) trying to Jump Scare him while he takes his shot, to teach him to block out distractions, because when he takes the shot in the Madison Square Garden, there will be no shortage of them.
  • In the book version of The Princess Bride, one of Inigo's sword teachers emphasized this to the point of disdaining all else. He would rant about how fights to the death are rarely, if ever, going to be held under ideal conditions and thus you have to be ready for every possible bad scenario, such as what if you're trying to fight while severely injured, if you're in the midst of terrible weather, etc. Said master ridiculed other famous master teachers for teaching as though bouts would take place in a ballroom, and when Inigo is badly wounded by Count Rugen, it's this training and experience he calls on to see himself through it.

     Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40K: Many Space Marine Chapters have their initiates fight against full Space Marines before, during and after their surgical enhancements as part of their grueling Training from Hell, as well as getting them used to fighting enemies bigger than them (which the galaxy has no shortage of).

     Webcomics 
  • In True Villains, Sebastian suffers a crippling magical attack on his Aura that constantly drains his Life Energy, forcing him to spend hours a day doing grueling exercises to replenish it. This earns him Charles Atlas Superpowers when he finds a mage to heal his aura and is able to retain and use all that power.

     Western Animation 
  • Spoofed on the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "You're Fired, Mrs. Puff", when the new boating teacher makes SpongeBob run the obstacle course blindfolded. It works, only now SpongeBob can only drive while blindfolded.

     Real Life 
  • Swimmers will sometimes train while wearing extra clothing, like leggings, to give them more "drag" in the water. Once they get good at this, in theory, when they swim in a regular suit they'll be faster, because it's easier by comparison.

Feedback: 31 replies

May 12th 2017 at 2:51:29 PM

Spoofed on the Sponge Bob Square Pants episode "You're Fired, Mrs. Puff", when the new boating teacher makes SpongeBob run the obstacle course blindfolded. It works, only now SpongeBob can only drive ''while blindfolded".

May 12th 2017 at 3:45:07 PM

You may take examples from Base Form Training, where someone who regularly accesses stronger forms trains in their weaker "base" form so their stronger form could get even stronger.

Also related is Boxing Lessons For Superman

May 13th 2017 at 3:26:29 AM

May 13th 2017 at 11:57:52 AM

  • In True Villains, Sebastian suffers a crippling magical attack on his Aura that constantly drains his Life Energy, forcing him to spend hours a day doing grueling exercises to replenish it. This earns him Charles Atlas Superpowers when he finds a mage to heal his aura and is able to retain and use all that power.

Jun 19th 2017 at 1:15:21 AM

Super Girl once trained in combat techniques with a team of teenage superheroes while wearing kryptonite manacles to negate her super abilities.

I don't remember the comic book's name or the issue number, so this can't be added unless someone else knows it.

Jun 17th 2017 at 10:41:57 PM

Needs a different name, as it sounds like it means disabled people training.

Jun 19th 2017 at 6:19:36 PM

Training from Heck? It's not as bad as training from hell, but it definitely in many cases (Dragon Ball Z?) way more of a handicap than say in golf.

Jul 2nd 2017 at 7:11:07 AM

Left-hand Training? (Training with I Am Not Left Handed in play?)

Nov 18th 2017 at 1:51:49 PM

In the Forgotten Realms novel Spellfire, a young wizard is being tutored for his next level-up. Part of the training is to memorize spells while his teacher tries to distract him.

May 13th 2018 at 8:56:23 PM

Maybe related is someone who trains with a blindfold so that he can train his other senses as well.

I've seen some works where that happened but I can't recall it.

May 13th 2018 at 9:17:40 PM

^That's a pretty straight version.

May 14th 2018 at 12:06:13 AM

  • Berserk:
    • Accidentally invoked by Guts, who was raised in a mercenary band and thus started training with swords meant for adults. As an adult, his swords are still longer than he is tall.
    • After the Eclipse, Guts' self-imposed training involves things like chopping one-handed through logs falling down a waterfall. Of course, in this case it's because he lost an arm and an eye in the Eclipse, so he needs unusual training to get his new body back in fighting condition.
  • Warhammer 40 K: Many Space Marine Chapters have their initiates fight against full Space Marines before, during and after their surgical enhancements as part of their grueling Training From Hell, as well as getting them used to fighting enemies bigger than them (which the galaxy has no shortage of).

May 14th 2018 at 2:32:33 AM

  • In Captain Tsubasa, Hyuga's coach trains his soccer team by ordering them to dribble and kick the balls on shore tides. Hyuga himself take this further by using a heavier ball.

May 14th 2018 at 5:23:29 AM

  • In Naruto Rock Lee wears ludicrously heavy training weights on his legs most of the time, as in makes a crater when he drops them heavy, making him extremely fast once taken off.

May 14th 2018 at 7:46:45 AM

Literature

  • In The Inheritance Cycle, towards the end of the series, Eragon and Arya are sparring to keep their edge in time to fight Galbatorix. Arya pulls out every distracting trick she can think of, including making Eragon Distracted By The Sexy, so as to toughen his mentality in case Galbatorix starts to use illusion magic, he will be able to remain focused on his goal.

May 14th 2018 at 1:49:19 PM

  • We find out in Thor Ragnarok that Thor has been doing this all along. Thor believes that Mjolnir is the source of his power and is completely lost when the hammer is destroyed in combat. Odin reveals that they actually gave Thor the hammer to help him learn control and that he doesn't actually need the hammer to access his powers.

  • God Of War: Kratos is teaching Atreus how to survive. Atreus feels like he'll never be able to live up to his father's example, particularly since he is scrawny and sickly. Turns out, that sickliness is because Atreus is secretly half-Giant, a quarter-God, and a quarter-mortal. Once he finds out the truth, he no longer falls ill, he becomes a much more confident fighter, and it's hinted that he will develop more powers as he grows older.

May 14th 2018 at 3:17:59 PM

In Mulan, Shang asks the recruits to retrieve an arrow atop a high pole, while wearing heavy weights hanging from their arms. It's Mulan who figures out that, by entwining the weights around the pole, she can use them to hold herself up as she climbs.

May 14th 2018 at 4:49:24 PM

^^ so you mean that they're "handicapped all along"? Not sure how they fit...

May 14th 2018 at 7:53:51 PM

Well the first bullet says "Attempting to use normal abilities while under the effects of a Power Limiter". The first one definitely falls under power limiter. The second one may be iffy. But It's possible I'm not really understanding what's being asked for.

May 14th 2018 at 8:32:18 PM

Thor example looks like Power Crutch (the purpose of Mjolnir), to me.

May 14th 2018 at 10:44:06 PM

  • Tsuba is a straight example.
  • Naruto is a straight example.
  • Inheritance Cycle is a straight example.
  • Thor's hammer is not a Power Limiter. It's more like a Magic Feather; Thor was therefore not directly impeded by having his hammer (nor, as it turns out, by not having it). Thor was not trained physically by the hammer in any regard, but limiting him to using his powers only when he has the hammer teaches him control (as Odin said), which makes it a form of mental training, but not physical.
  • God Of War is not an example. Atreus's disease limits his abilities, but this wasn't in any way intentional. He simply can't access these abilities while the disease is in play. A straight example would be if he intentionally de-powered himself and then made use of the abilities anyway.
  • Mulan is either an inversion or a Secret Test Of Character; the seeming impediments were actually the means to complete the training. A straight example of this would be if they were simply expected to climb the pole with weights tied to their wrists, or while Shang stood at the top throwing rocks down at them, or something along those lines.

May 15th 2018 at 6:38:13 AM

Literature

  • In the children's book The Million Dollar Shot, Eddie Ball goes through several weeks of training on taking free throws, so as to stand the best chance of sinking it. This includes his friend Annie Stokely and her father Bobby (his coach) trying to Jump Scare him while he takes his shot, to teach him to block out distractions, because when he takes the shot in the Madison Square Garden, there will be no shortage of them.

May 15th 2018 at 3:06:16 PM

As a real life example, I've heard somewhere that certain students of the weapons system of Okinawa (think Franchise/TMNT) are introduced to nunchuks, which are the hardest weapon to learn, before learning tonfas, which feel the most natural as an extension of one's body. That way, learning to use the baton (and probably any other weapon) will be that much easier. If there are any tropers here who practice and study kobudo here who can verify this, please do.

May 16th 2018 at 8:10:37 PM

May 23rd 2018 at 1:56:52 PM

  • Nightwing: Dick takes Tim for training that involves riding train tops around Bludhaven while blindfolded and doing various balancing exercises. Tim is not amused when they get ambushed while doing so.

May 23rd 2018 at 1:59:43 PM

The idea that Your Eyes Can Deceive You often leads to blindfolding a character for training.

May 23rd 2018 at 5:41:21 PM

  • In the book version of The Princess Bride, one of Inigo's sword teachers emphasized this to the point of disdaining all else. He would rant about how fights to the death are rarely, if ever, going to be held under ideal conditions and thus you have to be ready for every possible bad scenario, such as what if you're trying to fight while severely injured, if you're in the midst of terrible weather, etc. Said master ridiculed other famous master teachers for teaching as though bouts would take place in a ballroom, and when Inigo is badly wounded by Count Rugen, it's this training and experience he calls on to see himself through it.

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